Steven Spielberg's longtime cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, already has won two Academy Awards for their collaborations on "Schindler's List" and "Saving Private Ryan," which are considered the director's masterpieces. Kaminski is nominated again this year for his work on Spielberg's "Lincoln," which features a signature look that they've captured together: a mystical sort of lighting, often streaking in from the outside and casting dramatic shafts.
Despite the hectic nature of awards season, with "Lincoln" up for a leading 12 Oscars at the Feb. 24 ceremony, the master cinematographer was nice enough to answer our question this week: What are five of the most beautifully photographed films you've ever seen? Here are his picks:
— "The Conformist" (1970): Bernardo Bertolucci's dramatically stylized commentary on 1930s fascism, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant of this year's best-picture nominee "Amour." Kaminski's reason for choosing it: "Use of color and light."
— "In Cold Blood" (1967): Based on Truman Capote's pioneering true-crime book about a vicious family murder that took place in a small Midwestern town. Kaminski praised its "visual metaphors."
— "Citizen Kane" (1941): Well it's ... it's "Citizen Kane." Kaminski chose it for its "angles and drama within the composition, also within the frame."
— "The French Connection" (1971): The classic crime thriller starring Gene Hackman as a detective on the trail of a major drug smuggling ring, it won five Oscars including best picture. Kaminski appreciated the film "for the action and realistic representation of New York."
— "Empire of the Sun" (1987): A Spielberg movie that Kaminski didn't shoot, actually. Allen Daviau, a previous collaborator of his in the mid-'80s, received an Oscar nomination for the visually lavish film, featuring a young Christian Bale. Kaminski enjoyed its "use of color and light."